Matthew Friedberger interview

There’s an interesting interview in Pitchfork with Matthew Friedberger from The Fiery Furnaces. The Fiery Furnaces are one of my favourite bands at the moment. I’m so glad that a crazy band like that can exist.

Friedberger comes across as a little bit weird in the interview. By that I mean he seems very dogmatic. He has a lot of strong views about how a record should and shouldn’t be made. But I think a lot of what he says makes perfect sense, and I agree with a lot of it.

I kind of get Friedberger’s point about rock operas aswell (although I am more comfortable with the idea of the concept album rather than the rock opera). The idea that an album is almost more important than the songs on it is one that I go along with. If I listen to music, it’s almost always an album as a whole, and not individual tracks. I don’t understand people who just set iTunes on shuffle and have tracks playing at random. How can you be bothered with the style completely changing every five minutes?

Freidberger also mentions that scary R Kelly hip-hopera. So it must be real.

Pitchfork: …I find it interesting that the response to your music is usually pretty extreme one way or the other; people tend to either really love your music or really hate it. Do you have any thoughts on why your music has such a divisive effect?

MF: Because we try to make it good! Other people try to make records that sound like another record, you know? That’s the reason why: To try to make it good and legitimate. To have it not sound like another record, we have to be different from the records we like in one direction or another.

Pitchfork: You often completely rearrange your songs for live performance, what’s the motivation or inspiration behind that?

MF: It’s the proper thing to do, I think. Why do you want to come and see the record live? I don’t understand that. I heard somebody say — I can’t remember what the song was– but Ray Davies did a song in “a terrible blues-rock way” and butchered it, but that’s exciting to me when people butcher their songs. You get something new out of it!

I don’t often attend gigs because I usually find myself thinking, ‘why do I want to spend £20 to stand in an audience of morons spilling beer all over me when I could just listen to the album?’ I really like the attitude that The Fiery Furnaces have to playing live. Radiohead do the same thing with their songs from Kid A and Amnesiac, completely reinterpreting them for a live environment. It’s like getting two songs for the price of one. (I still wouldn’t go to see Radiohead though, you have to be rich / crazy to do that sort of thing.)

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